When children get new books and immediately inquire whether there are pictures in them, this does not have to be the beginning of a spiritual desertification.

The succession of letters, words and sentences is simply more beautiful when it is accompanied by a juxtaposition of figures, patterns and people.

If adults are more interested in the signed first edition of Ian Fleming's "Casino Royale" (about forty thousand euros) than in its Kindle edition (less than three euros), this often also shows a desire for aesthetic appreciation.

The stock exchange association of the German book trade also knows this.

Non-fiction books, says its head of marketing and cultural projects, Anne-Mette Noack, should "contribute to a better understanding of the time we live in".

This goal can be achieved particularly well with digital frippery (our wording, not theirs): On May 30, the German Non-Fiction Prize, which is endowed with 42,500 euros, will be presented for the second time.

Not only in the Berlin Palace, but also in virtual space.

The digital certificate for the non-fiction book of the year is also inscribed on the blockchain, which is a guarantee of uniqueness (Benjamin! Aura!).

Together with Creatokia, an NFT platform for the book industry, publishers would have the opportunity to "test the technology around non-fungible tokens" and, one might add, explore how lucrative the thing is.

Differences hardly matter in the metaverse

Before the ceremony, interested parties can buy limited special editions of selected titles.

This includes the e-book with cover, digital signature and jury statement as well as at least one additional digital content.

Gosh, you're probably thinking, an attached jury statement, that's exactly what you want to read again and again.

And what could be the additional content of Samira El Ouassils and Friedemann Karig's nominated book "Narrative Monkeys"?

Family tree illustrations (Pan, Gorilla, Homo...)?

Five pages of narratology for dummies?

Can readers of Stefan Creuzberger's essay "The German-Russian Century" look forward to Gerhard Schröder's curriculum vitae and list of publications?

Or, especially in these times, digital white space for notes?

John Ruhrmann, CEO at Creatokia, says he's betting "that literature and metaverse go together."

It remains to be seen whether this also applies to non-fiction books.

"The Great Sleep" or "The Sleepwalkers", "In Search of Lost Time" or "A Brief History of Time" - do the differences in the metaverse still matter?

Incidentally, “time” is a good keyword, because transience is often enough – for example in the case of special editions on high-quality paper – a prerequisite for beauty.

So when it says on the Creatokia homepage that writing to the blockchain would “preserve the German Non-Fiction Prize for eternity”, that sounds like the opposite of an aesthetic promise.